A bipartisan emergency spending package that would provide $8.3 billion in federal funds to address the coronavirus was successfully passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to Congresswoman Grace Meng, who advocated for passage of the legislation.
Included in the measure is a provision based on legislation recently introduced by Meng and her colleagues, Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Judy Chu (D-CA). The Small Business Relief from Communicable Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act would allow emergency loans to small businesses that have suffered economic losses related to the outbreak.
The spending bill is expected to be approved by the Senate this week.
Meng commended the House for passing the critical spending bill and dedicating resources needed to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I am thankful that the legislation does not forget about our small businesses. Many small businesses, in particular Asian American-owned businesses such as restaurants and retailers, have experienced a huge drop in business due to misinformation and xenophobia about coronavirus,” Meng said. “This includes many businesses in my district in Queens. Our hardworking small businesses drive our economy and enhance our communities. We must assist them in their time of need so that they can continue to operate, and not suffer further from the downturn that they have been forced to endure.”
Under the provision, the Small Business Association (SBA) could provide an estimated $7 billion in loans to help small businesses. Additionally, the bill provides $20 million to administer these loans.
The spending package also includes:
- More than $3 billion for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics
- $300 million to ensure access to affordable vaccines
- $2.2 billion in public health funding for prevention, preparedness, and response, $950 million of which is to support state and local health agencies
- Nearly $1 billion for medical supplies, health care preparedness, community health centers, and medical surge capacity
- $1.25 billion to address the coronavirus abroad, which helps keep Americans safe here at home
Additionally, the bill contains other important provisions such as:
- Allowing seniors to access telemedicine services for coronavirus treatment
- Requiring the Trump administration to reimburse health accounts that were previously raided to pay for the coronavirus response
- Ensuring state and local governments are reimbursed for costs incurred while assisting the federal response